In 1572, he traveled to France as part of the embassy to negotiate a marriage between Elizabeth I and the Duc D'Alençon. Upon his return, Sidney quarrelled with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Sidney opposed the French marriage while de Vere championed it. Sidney, ever passionate, challenged de Vere to a duel. Elizabeth strictly forbade. Sidney, feathers still ruffled, wrote a long letter to the Queen detailing his opinion on the matter. The Queen was displeased and Sidney sulked away from court.
During his absence from court, Sidney focused on his poetry. Being a poet, Sidney was apt at expressing love. In the 1580's he wrote a series of sonnets devoted to Penelope Devereux. They two would have been married, but her father died in 1576. Thus, the marriage feel through. Penelope Devereux was quickly married off, against her will, to Lord Rich.
Passion ever fueling his decisions, Sidney became keenly militant Protestant. In the 1570s, he had attempted to organize a united Protestant effort against the Roman Catholic Church and Spain, however he received little support. Finally, the Queen gave Sidney and outlet for his pent up aggression: an appointed as governor of Flushing in the Netherlands. He served under his uncle, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He, or course, urged action. He finally got it whe he participated in the Battle of Zutphen. As with any romanticized historical novel, Sidney was fatally shot in the thigh and died at the age of 31.
|Sidney's Funeral Procession|
What do you think? Was Sidney a tragic figure who deserved the title "Flower of English Manhood?" Or was he a hot headed, impulsive lover who deserves the title Roguish Rake?